ABS fails to stop employees going back to work: media release
15 May 2009, 7:24am
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission this week upheld orders made last week for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to allow employees back to their jobs.
ABS failed in its attempts to continue its job cuts plan with the AIRC rejecting and making only minor clarifications to the orders made last week.
In a marathon 5 hour AIRC hearing by video conference this week, CPSU successfully argued that ABS should continue to be restrained in moving ahead with their job cuts plan.
As a result of the latest decision, 28 staff who had been removed from their positions are now free to return to their previous jobs. The orders also prevent management continuing with the original plan to move ahead with sacking a further 60 employees using a similar process to the discredited ‘tick and flick' exercise used with these 28.
CPSU Deputy Secretary Nadine Flood said:
"Staff are delighted to get their jobs back and are looking forward to returning to the workplace and putting this whole episode behind them."
"CPSU is calling on ABS management to accept the independent umpire's decision and stop trying to get these staff out of their jobs."
"The rest of the public service seems able to deal with job losses fair and sensibly- it's time for ABS to do the same."
"ABS has received $15 million extra in the Budget- it's time to work out how they can reduce job cuts."
"It's time for ABS management to begin treating these workers with fairness, with dignity and within the law - a course of action the union has been advocating from the very beginning of this sorry episode."
Senior Deputy President Lacey refused ABS's proposed changes to the orders, ruling that:
Order 3.1 - ABS must withdraw the assessments of executive level staff that they based their decision to terminate on
CPSU successfully argued these tick and flick forms were fundamentally flawed and must be withdrawn. The AIRC upheld this order, making only a minor change to allow assessments to stand where employees had already accepted voluntary redundancy.
Order 3.2 - ABS must return these affected staff to their normal jobs if they so choose-
The AIRC upheld this order, over ABS's vehement objections. ABS argued that returning employees to their jobs was administratively complex. In a shocking turn of events ABS even argued these employees might now be disaffected and therefore do damage, casting aspersions on long standing and high performing public servants. CPSU successfully argued that it was relatively straightforward to put people back in their jobs and that there were normal public service processes for moving staff to cover jobs when staff take annual leave.
Order 3.3 and 3.4 ABS cannot proceed with assessments of other staff. The AIRC upheld this order. ABS argued strongly they should be able to proceed with assessments of EL1 staff, which would lead to a further round of sacking. CPSU argued that the process was flawed and must be left on hold. The AIRC upheld the CPSU view. The AIRC did clarify that this order doesn't stop normal ABS performance management process, only to staff being assessed in the job cuts process for "future roles in the new ABS structure".
Order 3.5 ABS must not take any steps towards termination of employees-
CPSU and ABS agreed to clarify that voluntary redundancies could proceed.
Order 4-5 Provide information to and consult with CPSU
The AIRC considered that ABS is already legally required under the Workplace Relations Act to provide information to, and to meet and consult with the CPSU, so there is no need for the AIRC to make orders requiring ABS to comply with their obligations under the Act.